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Posts Tagged ‘dog whistle politics’

National in trouble? Time to dog-whistle the Middle Class!

6 September 2012 11 comments

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National is in deep trouble.

Very deep trouble.

A clusterf**k of bad stories; low growth; a growing flood of New Zealanders escaping to Australia; rising unemployment; an unpopular asset sales agenda that has  turned into an unholy  mess; and a recent slew of massive job redundancies has left National sinking in the polls.

See previous blogpost: John Key’s “Bright New Future”

The last Roy Morgan poll had the Nats at 44.5% –  now polling lower than it did last November, where it won  47.31% of the vote.

See recent blogpost: Latest Roy Morgan Poll shows change of government

At this current rate of dropping public support, National’s electoral defeat in 2014 (if not earlier), will be more like a rout than a close-result.  We may be looking at a repeat of the 2002 general election where National’s support collapsed, leaving a rump-vote of 20.93%.

See: New Zealand general election, 2002

A result  of that magnitude would mean 32 National MPs losing their seats.

If this blogger is aware of this simple fact, then you can bet your cotton socks that National’s party strategists are on over-drive.

National’s response, every time, is to employ deflection. The above image – “National:  Spin The Wheel Policy Development Process” – is not so much a funny picture as an actual strategy process.

During the last spate of bad headlines, National floated “kites” on sterilising beneficiaries and “encouraging”  solo-mums (but never solo-dads) and their daughters (but never their sons) on to contraception. (The unspoken inference being that all solo-mothers – but never solo-dads – are reckless “breeders”, and ignoring problems surrounding domestic violence, substance abuse, gambling addiction, marital affairs, etc.)

More recently  recently, the last dog-whistle was drug-testing the unemployed. (The inference being that all 164,000 unemployment are jobless by choice; on drugs; and unwilling to work.)

Never mind the ongoing Global Financial Crisis recession – that excuse is reserved solely for John Key and his ministerial cronies to use,

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis..” – John Key

See:  View from the top

In the midst of a very deep global downturn we expect volatility and low growth, as we are seeing around the world economies.” – Steven Joyce

See: Parliamentary Questions and Answers – August 29

However, the government deferred the increase due to the challenging economic circumstances New Zealand was experiencing as it continued to recover from the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.” – Gerry Brownlee

See: Petrol excise, road user charges increases

The global economic situation is like a dark cloud on the horizon and it’s not going to go away possibly for a generation – certainly for 15 or 20 years.” – Bill English

See: English warns of financial crisis lasting a generation

With low polling and redundancies dominating the headlines, National has cast about for another dog-whistle to distract the easily-led Middle class.

They’ve done the unemployed and solo-mums (but never solo dads) “to death”.

Next minority on the List; Maori.

Cue: John Key’s derisory response to the upcoming nationwide  hui on water rights,

The Government does not believe there should be a national hui; does not believe there should be a national settlement and it probably would not recognise all of the rights and interests that some Maori groups believe they have.

If the Crown was to be represented at the hui, and it wont be, because we’ve said were not having a national hui, we don’t support that…if you are an MP in the government you represent the Crown and any representation by my MPs at such an event would be interpreted as representation by the Crown.

I’ve made that position absolutely crystal clear..I do not accept the view that there needs to be a national hui, because I do not accept there will be a national settlement, because I do not accept it’s a national issue.”

See: Key – Government won’t go to water hui

Maori-bashing.

Almost as good as bene-bashing.

Or “get tough on crime/crush cars” rhetoric.

“Standing tough” with Maori “demands” for water rights will probably work a treat with racist rednecks and low-information voters.  With the former, their racism is deeply ingrained and such ignorance can be written of like the forty-plus financial companies that sucked billions out of mums and dads investors.

With the latter, it is a matter of education and dispelling myths and prejudice, before people’s  eyes eventually open and they connect-the-dots.

National will probably rebound in the polls on this strategy.

So unfortunately, Greens co-leader, Russell Norman is missing the point when he suggests that National has “blundered again” by deciding to boycott the Hui,

For the Government to say that it won’t even attend and will actually ban its MPs from attending is the exact antithesis of good faith negotiation and is yet another blunder from this Government.”

See: MP ban on attending water hui ‘another blunder’

There is no “blunder” involved here. This is naked, machiavellian politicking by National’s back-room boys.

Realistically, though,  they can only use this kind of demonisation and deflection  a few times before the public start to realise that they are being “played”. People wise up pretty quickly – especialy when Opposition Parties, political commentators, media, and bloggers patiently explain what the Nats are up to.

Too much Maori bashing  may even force the Maori Party to make some hard decisions. Do Sharples and Turia really want to be associated with a right wing party that vilifies Maori aspirations and exploits our society’s latent racist underbelly for their own ends?

Especially when a growing perception that Sharples and Turia seem  slavishly tied to National. Are they also  obedient to Dear Leader John Key’s diktat that all National MPs stay away from the upcoming nationwide Hui?

Maori Party Co-leader Tariana Turia stated categorically,

“Well at this point I don’t really see the point in going.”

And Pita Sharples followed,

We believe this is a thing that iwi/hapu have to work out themselves.”

See:  Maori Party likely to snub water rights hui

So whistle-away, Dear Leader.

But eventually,  as Abaham Lincoln pointed out,

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

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= fs =

Nats ‘Get Tough on Crime’ – NZ First alleges theft of favourite policy!

26 October 2011 2 comments

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“Getting tough on crime” – that has to be one of the most worn out, cliched “policy” which any Party can announce at Election time,

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Full Story

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I mean, really?

Despite Dear Leader admitting that “the Government’s proposed crackdown on bail will affect only about 50 offenders a year” and “there was already a reverse onus of proof for offenders seeking bail“?

It occurs to me that when a political party is not confident of public support, it will resort to “dog whistle politics“, or scare-mongering populism, to attract votes.

If, as John Key admits, such a policy would affect only a possible 50 offenders per year – it seems an awful lot of effort to be spending on such a small number of people. Especially, when, it is already within Police powers to oppose bail.

Why  spend so much time campaigning on issues of such little substance? If 50 offenders can attract National’s policy-wonks, then surely, 58,000 unemployed young people should be worthy of considerable more attention?

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Full Story

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Or, put another way that we can understand,

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Full Story

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What does National offer as a solution?

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Full Story

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Food stamps for young beneficiaries?! “Clamping down” on youth? “Money for basic living costs like food loaded on to a new payment card that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettes“? (When it’s already illegal for retailers to sell these items to 16 and 17 year olds.)

What about something more constructive, like skills training?

Nope. Can’t have that: National has actually cut $146 million on skills training.

It quickly becomes apparent that National has no real policies or ideas how to address a growing crisis of 58,000 unemployed young people. That seems to have been consigned to the Too Hard Basket.

Instead, National is fixated with 50 offenders. Cost: $4.5 million, to ” be funded out of existing budgets”.

(Which begs the question; how can Government use money to pay for one thing, that has already been committed to pay for something else? Anyone for a game of sleight-of-hand tricks?)

“Getting tough on crime” used to be the policy-of-choice of small parties such as the near-dead ACT, and the zombie-like, refuses-to-stay-dead, New Zealand First. It was their preferred  method of attracting votes from low-information voters, for whom “getting tough on crime” was a panacea for society’s ills.

For National to use this tactic – including on one of their billboards – suggests to me that they are worried about maintaining public support. A recent Horizon poll put National at 36.8% – hardly the 50%-plus that other pollsters give them.

My suspicion is that National’s own private polling has produced similar outcomes. National is more vulnerable than we, the public, realise.

Why else engage in populist issues that are suggestive of vulnerable, small-party,  desperation?

Why indeed.

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